Allow me to introduce you to the new column Spectator vs. Spotter. A series dedicated to the shared and separate views of each track from both the fans in the bleachers and the Spotters stand.
Each week we will explore a different track with a featured Spotter from your favorite 43 teams.
This week we explore Pocono, with views from the spotters stand from Brett Griffin, spotter for the No. 19 Best Buy/Stanley Dodge of Richard Petty Motorsports driven by Elliott Sadler.
Most everyone’s standpoint of Pocono would be romantic, beautiful, and fan friendly. Nestled in a honeymoon hot spot, it’s the track couples love to visit.
As a spectator, the pre-race activities can be enticing. You can enjoy the beautiful scenery or an infield wedding vow or two.
But as for those of us who are true sport fanatics, we recognize Pocono as a truly unique test of a team’s togetherness.
Its one-of-a-kind design makes it not only a difficult track to drive on but also a nearly impossible facility to find a winning set up and navigate around each lap.
To shed some light from the spotter stand on the diverse nature of Long Pond, Pa.’s triangle track, I give you exclusive quotes from Brett Griffin.
Griffin has been Sadler’s spotter since 2000, and is versed in the trials and tribulations that face a team.
When asked his view on Pocono from a spotter’s standpoint, Griffin was most forth- coming.
“Pocono is a very unique track. It's a triangle. Turn 1 has banking, turn 2 (the tunnel turn) is super fast with not a lot of banking and turn 3 is very flat but very important because exiting turn 3 puts you on the longest straightaway in NASCAR.
"The grandstands are only located on the front stretch and the fans love stock car racing. The bleachers are always full.”
Griffin went on to say, “The spotters stand above the start finish line on the roof. We have a great view of the track and from the roof the track is all we see (no houses, no commercial property) pretty much just the race track and a bunch of trees. The track is gigantic.
"Lots of fans ask if we use two spotters at Pocono. No. We only use multiple spotters at the two road course races and Indy. Or, at least that's true for the 19 team. The less people on the radio, the better it is for the driver and for efficient communication.”
On the challenges that face a spotter most at this racetrack, Griffin tells us, “The cars are coming directly at us or going away from us half the time. That makes it very tough to clear the drivers. It changes depth perception.
"Going into turn 1, the cars are a half mile or more away from us so when they aren't in line it's really tough for us to make a call to help the driver. Thankfully, the drivers have their rear-view mirror and a left-side mirror to help them.”
“The other thing is the layout of the spotter's stand. We're all in long row, which means when we're trying to look toward turn 1 we have to lean way over the rail to do so to look around the guy on your right. 43 guys standing side by side, trying to see the exact same spot on the race track is tough,” Griffin explains about being able to watch his driver while other spotters attempting to do the same thing surround him.
As Griffin wrapped up his thoughts on Pocono he added one last point on the visibility. “The last thing is the humongous American Flag. God Bless America but where the flag is positioned makes it tough for us to see the end of Long Pond straightaway.
"We're pretty much used to it by now, though. It's kind of like the water tower that stands smack dab in the middle of the infield in Fontana, Calif.”
The weather in Long Pond, Pa., is almost ever present. With fog and rain often delaying on-track activities, one might wonder what keeps a spotter occupied?
“If I'm at the track and it's raining I'm either sleeping, hanging out with some of the crew guys, playing Xbox 360 or kickin' back watching TV,” Griffin says.
“There's not much else to do. If it starts raining once we're on the roof we all just hang out in the hallway and tell lies.”
Griffin will be high up on the roof this weekend hoping to keep Elliott Sadler’s streak of 21 consecutive races at Pocono without a DNF alive.
Featured Spotter Bio:
Name: Brett Griffin
Hometown: Pageland, S.C.
Favorite sport (other than racing): College Football, Go Cocks!!
Favorite food: Shrimp.
Favorite music/song: Changes by the day. Michael Jackson, Eminem, Blake Shelton, Nickelback, Lil Wayne, 3 Doors Down, Bon Jovi, Randy Travis...I could go on and on.
Favorite Movie: Wedding Crashers
Favorite off track activity: Motorcycles, Video Games, Hanging with friends, & Going to concerts.
Follow him on twitter: http://twitter.com/19Spotter
Next week we move to the second road course of the cup season, be sure to catch Spectator vs. Spotter: Watkins Glen edition with Featured Spotter Jason Jarrett of the No.12 team for Penske Racing.